Now that we’ve finished the easy part of choosing your personal politics, the real challenge is up next: turning those individual preferences into society-wide shifts. Now, this is the citizen’s guide to political activism, not a guide to becoming a major activist or world-changer on a huge scale. This won’t turn you into a Congressperson or political activist; it is only a roadmap to small, frequent political actions you can take for yourself to see if your political goals are being met.
It cannot be stressed enough: voting matters. Voting matters a lot. It’s one of the most important and central acts of our government. Citizenship cannot exist without it. And yes, while it will take other, more consistent actions to bring your worldview to full fruition, almost nothing you can try to accomplish through politics will happen without casting a ballot.
Yet the myth persists among too many people that voting doesn’t matter.
Wait, please hear me out! Trust feels precious enough that none of us really wants to spare any for politics, let alone anyone who can’t go three words without pandering. But the bad news is that our political system runs on trust, so we’ll all have to find some way to build it for the people we hire to write and manage the rules of society.
It’s true: the nitty gritty of the policies and programs that impact our lives are complicated as all get out. It’s a lot like trying to explain the mechanics of an entire house – plumbing, HVAC, heating, electricity, construction, foundation. Each one of those systems is its own area of expertise that a person can spend years learning and memorizing. Just like politics, the technical aspects of those are constantly changing with new information and developments, which means that to truly know what’s going on, you have to be constantly learning.
Politics is a gross, messy thing, like cleaning cat litter or moving dripping garbage or doing your freshman bio fetal pig lab barehanded because you don’t have latex gloves that fit. And just like those gross, messy things, politics is necessary. You could ignore the cat litter or the garbage or the fetal pig lab, but consequences will pile up in ways that will only make the final and inevitable reckoning worse.
Watch this week’s episode to get another opportunity to find answers:
Ask yourself, and answer.
That’s the first rule. It’s the hardest to stick to, because knowledge is power, but it is also pain. Sometimes we don’t want to ask ourselves the question; sometimes we take shortcuts on the answers. But being an active part of the United States – getting involved in its questions and solutions – means asking yourself first.